Role of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in the healing of gastric ulcers in rats

N Kobayashi, T Kataoka, A Ono, Y Tsukimi, S Okabe
Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: An Official Journal of the Polish Physiological Society 2001, 52 (2): 195-210
p38 belongs to the mitogen-activated protein kinase family and plays a crucial role in cellular responses to both cytokines and various stresses. We investigated the role of p38 in the healing of experimental gastric ulcers. Gastric ulcers were induced by submucosal injection of acetic acid solution into male rats. Western blotting and a kinase assay examined the p38 activity and phosphorylation state in ulcerated tisue. After orally administering FR167653 (p38 kinase inhibitor) for 3 to 14 days, the production level of cytokines and the protein-level expression of cyclooxygenase and inducible nitric oxide synthase were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blotting. Only in fibroblasts and macrophages/monocytes in ulcerated tissue, p38 was found to be phosphorylated with an elevated kinase activity level. FR 167653 inhibited the activity of p38, yet had no effect on its phosphorylation state. The drug significantly impaired ulcer healing (without affecting acid secretion) and angiogenesis in the ulcer base. The production of interleukin-1beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were significantly reduced after FR167653 treatment. In addition the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase proteins increased PGE2 generation and NOx secretion in the ulcerated stomach were suppressed by FR167653. From these findings, we conclude that p38, activated by gastric ulceration, might play some role in the healing of gastic ulcers in rats.

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